Seongnam, SOUTH KOREA – A barren land ripped of all its charms. Nothing but the screeching sound of silence. Only the quiet whispers of the wind exist here — and a family.
Intensely watching the opening scene of A Quiet Place, you immerse into the film only to ask yourself: is the sound even on? As the title shows, A Quiet Place is a novel movie that lacks one of the key elements of film: sound.
Directed by John Krasinski and released in early April, the film hit the second highest domestic opening with an overwhelming $50.3 million and today over $300 million globally, according to Forbes.
The movie trails a family of four who struggles for survival in an apocalyptic world. Haunted by foreign creatures, those who survive live by one rule for survival: make no noise and you’re safe. Or as it is commonly known, If they hear you, they hunt you.
Starting with the death of the family’s youngest child, the plot escalates as the mother, who is pregnant with her third child, is left alone at home with a creature hunting for her. While the father and son find food, the daughter – frustrated by not being allowed to go along – also leaves home. Without any of her family around, the mother strives to survive.
What makes the film so successful and a major hit at the box office is how well-crafted it is despite having minimal sound and words.
Unlike other horror movies, A Quiet Place minimizes sound to merely the occasional movement of the wind or the petrifying sound of the creatures. But besides that, the film barely has any dialogue.
Viewers never even hear some of the characters’ voices. So how is the film progressing the plot when we cannot understand what is happening? This very quality of not understanding the exact feelings and actions is what makes the crafting so deliberate and refined.
With an absence of dialogue between characters, the film urges the viewers to interpret the story in their own way by picking up on clues alluded to by the actors’ facial expressions and gestures. The ambiguity and uncertainty propel us to ponder, speculate and imagine.
In conjunction with the nature of the movie, A Quiet Place touches on some of the most vulnerable, emotional and fundamental parts of our lives.
One notable theme Krasinski weaves throughout the film is the emergence of feminism. The movie strongly exemplifies the traditional role of men as fathers, protectors, heroes—the ones who fearlessly protect their wives and children.
The father decidedly takes his son, Marcus, instead of her daughter, Regan, to learn to find food despite Regan’s willingness. But the film pivots this view when the mother and daughter are left independent of the father. While the mother strives to save her unborn child in a house with no one but the creature, Regan protects Marcus in the haunted field.
But the escalation of women’s power and independence does not end here. The film ambiguously ends with the mother holding a gun and Regan amplifying the piercing sound on her hearing aids to eventually kill the deadly creature in front of them. It’s a true moment of feminism and female empowerment.
On a more subtle and emotional level, the film points at one of humanity’s most vulnerable feelings: unworthiness.
Burdened by the death of her youngest brother, Regan feels rejected and unloved by her father. He refuses to take her to catch food, leading her to leave home and feel betrayed. But as the viewers know, Regan indulged her own thoughts of unworthiness — her father loved her infinitely.
The lesson here is that sometimes, unworthiness stems from our own ignorance and thoughts. We constantly believe that we are feeling unloved or unwanted when in fact, we are.
Despite the subtle nuances that touch upon some of our most vulnerable parts, the crux of the movie is the power of language, of words. In a world where words are so prevalent, we often take our ability to communicate for granted.
Too often, we let our words slip too easily. When leaving the house for work, meeting a friend or seeing your loved ones, we can often speak carelessly, forgetting a simple “thank you” or “I love you.” Or when we’re furious about someone’s mistake or action, we can unleash a cascade of profanity.
But here in the film, we see how it is not only frustrating but sorrowful to not be able to communicate with your loved ones, to your dying ones, to even your newborn child. So much about language and words is taken for granted when truthfully, we should appreciate our ability to talk and share with other people.
On the surface, A Quiet Place may seem like a mere classic apocalyptic horror story. But when we examine the subtle nuances more closely, we see how the film touches on some of humanity’s most vulnerable and sacred selves.
This film imbues the full human capacity to feel, endear and connect.
Sarah Se-Jung Oh is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.